AIMSThe study investigated gender differences in drinking patterns and the reasons behind them among men and women in the Russian city of Novosibirsk.METHODSA mixed method, combining quantitative and qualitative data, was conducted based on the Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors In Eastern Europe cohort study. The quantitative study included 4268 men and 5094 women aged 45-69 years; of those, 20 men and 24 women completed an in-depth interview.RESULTSThe quantitative data revealed a large gap in drinking patterns in general between genders. Women drank less often and much smaller quantities than that of men. For example, 19% of men, vs. 1% of women, were classified as problem drinkers (two or more positive answers on the CAGE questionnaire). These differences were not explained by socioeconomic factors. Qualitative data have shown that gender roles and a traditional culture around women's and men's drinking were the main reasons for the reported drinking behaviour, whereby women were consistently expected to drink much less than men in terms of preference for strong beverages, drinking frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed.CONCLUSIONThe study confirmed that large differences exist between Russian men's and women's drinking; these differences may be largely explained by gender roles.